January 7, 2016

Virginia Housing Coalition and Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness Merge to Create Virginia Housing Alliance

The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) recently merged to create the Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA). The merger was approved by members of VHC and VCEH on October 15, 2015. VHA officially began operations on January 1, 2016.

“It’s a new day for efforts to expand housing opportunity and end homelessness in Virginia,” said Courtney Gardner, Chair of the VCEH Board of Directors and member of the new VHA Board. “The Virginia Housing Alliance recognizes the fundamental connection between expanding housing opportunity and ending homelessness, which cannot be addressed separately.”

VHA will focus on expanding affordable housing opportunities and ending homelessness through advocacy, education and collaboration. Based in Richmond, VHA will have a truly statewide focus given the broad spectrum of services and local partners in Virginia that it will support.

Bob Newman, the Chair of VHC, stressed the greater impact that will be created by the merger of these two 30-year-old organizations. Newman noted, “Housing costs have been rising faster than incomes and we have nearly one million Virginia households that are paying more for housing than they can afford. The Alliance will be a stronger voice in support of policies that increase access to good housing.”

VHA also announced that the organization’s first Executive Director will be Sim Wimbush. She previously served as the Associate Director of Housing Development for Virginia Veteran and Family Support at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. In that position, she was co-lead in providing statewide and regional coordination and technical assistance on veteran housing resources and housing policy in Virginia. Wimbush also has several years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector conducting community based advocacy and providing case management and crisis intervention services, as well as developing and maintaining interdisciplinary partnerships.

“I’m thrilled to join VHA’s incredible team as its first executive director,” Wimbush said. “Our statewide organization will help to end homelessness and expand housing opportunities across Virginia.”

The new organization will focus its efforts on three key areas: advocacy, education and training and resources. VHA will help organizations and communities expand housing opportunities and end homelessness.

In addition, VHA will become a clearinghouse for news and resources about housing and homelessness. The nonprofit also will publish reports such as Home Matters and The State of Permanent Supportive Housing in Virginia. Legislative and public policy efforts remain a key focus for the newly merged organization too. VHA will develop an annual legislative and policy agenda that addresses state and federal issues, and provide direct education for legislators in Washington D.C. and Richmond. VHA staff will conduct education and provide supporting materials for members, housing providers, advocates and other stakeholders as well.

VHDA has long counted both the Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness as key partners in our Community Outreach mission, and we are excited to continue this partnership with the Virginia Housing Alliance now and in the future. Congratulations to all involved with this merger!
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